5 Ways Scott Brown’s Climate & Energy Debate Answer Was Wrong

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A viewer question focused on climate change in last night’s U.S. Senate debate between Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. Watch it in part 2 starting at 22:25.

The question: Do you believe climate change is real, and if so what should the federal government be doing about it?

BROWN: Yes, I do. I absolutely believe climate change is real, and I believe there’s a combination between manmade and natural. That being said one of the biggest things we can do is get an energy policy and we don’t have one. Wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, geothermal, coal, siting, permitting, conservation, a true all of the above approach as I have. Professor Warren has a none of the above approach. She’s in favor of wind and solar. She’s against the Keystone pipeline which will help create union, all you union guys listening out there, she’s denying union jobs and non-union jobs. Making sure we can get more energy on the world market to stabilize those costs that you’re paying at the pump. When’s the last time we permitted a nuclear facility to make sure we can have that clean energy? I could go on and on but right now the role is actually a balancing role. To find that balance, Jon, because you can’t just have one or this or that. she’s in favor of putting wind turbines in the middle of our, uh, greatest treasure, on the Nantucket Sound. I, like, President, uh, Senator Kennedy before me believe that’s not right because those ratepayers are going to pay a tremendous amount more in their daily costs, and that’s not right.

Sen. Brown’s response is completely wrong here in at least five different ways:

  • He’s wrong about climate science. “The human impact on climate during this era greatly exceeds that due to known changes in natural processes,” reports the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And if climate action and protecting our clean air and water are so important to Sen. Brown, why are they nowhere to be found on his website?
  • He’s wrong about our electricity sources. Sen. Brown forgot to mention hydrocarbon gas, which provides more than half of Massachusetts’ electricity generation right now. The extremely low cost of “natural” gas is what’s putting coal out of business right now, not clean air regulations. And while the nuclear power industry likes to portray itself as the victim of those big, bad anti-radiation activists, we don’t build nuclear power plants anymore because they’re wicked expensive.
  • He’s wrong on what will stop climate change. More coal and the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline? Our dependence on dirty coal is what’s fueled our climate crisis in the first place. And building a new pipeline for tar sands – one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet – could be game over for stopping climate catastrophe.
  • He’s wrong about energy jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline would create only a fraction of the clean energy jobs that already exist in Massachusetts. TransCanada’s original application estimated just 3,500-4,200 short-term construction jobs. Massachusetts’ clean tech economy already employs 71,000 people.
  • He’s wrong about oil prices. Saying the U.S. can control the global oil market is like saying a junkie can control the cost of a hit. We have just 2% of the world’s oil reserves but consume 20% of the world’s oil supply. Even under the most optimistic scenarios, drilling in all of our wilderness areas desired by Big Oil combined would only mean a 4-5 cent reduction in the price of a gallon of gasoline by 2025. The only way we can reduce what we pay at the pump is by using less of it – exactly what the Obama administration is doing.
  • Does even Scott Brown know what Scott Brown believes on clean energy? Says he supports wind energy, bashes Cape Wind - classic Both Ways Brown.

Here’s Elizabeth Warren’s response:

WARREN: Sen. Brown says that he’s about a balanced approach. He’s not – he’s about a rigged playing field. Our clean energy industry – an industry that works here in Massachusetts – has to fight uphill against the oil subsidies. That’s what tilts the playing field, and Sen. Brown has helped tilt it for the oil companies. That works against clean energy. The Keystone pipeline? Look, that’s not going to produce nearly as many jobs as if we invested that same money in clean energy – that’s where you produce real jobs, and that’s where Massachusetts has a real advantage. But you know, I just want to stop on this one for a minute, because I think this one is really important. Sen. Brown has been going around the country talking to people saying you’ve gotta contribute to his campaign because it may be for the control of the Senate. And he’s right. This race may really be for the control of the Senate. But what that would mean is, if the Republicans take over the Senate, Jim Inhofe would become the person who would be in charge of the committee that oversees the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s a man who’s called global warming a hoax. In fact, that’s the title of his book. A man like that should not be in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency overseeing their work. I just don’t understand how we could talk about going in that direction.

And she backs up the talk with a real plan. Check out Elizabeth Warren’s comprehensive climate & energy plan.

Cross-posted from The Green Miles

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8 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. A most excellent post

    Thanks for sharing it.

  2. And no one notices

    That US CO2 emissions from energy production have been declining.

    A warm winter helped, but doesn’t explain the trend. A shitty economy helped, but doesn’t cover the decline.

    The shift from coal to gas plays a big role, but Democrats oppose fracking, which creates the supply of that gas, don’t they?

  3. Where in Mass.

    does Brown want to site that nuke? (Or that coal plant?)

    How does he expect to pay for it? What does he suppose it would do to electric rates?

  4. Perhaps we should ask Japan about "safe nuclear power"

    The canard that nuclear energy is “clean” and “safe” should be dismissed after the horrific catastrophe in Japan. The point of that failure is NOT that it was a tidal wave, it is that instead it was an unforeseen event that the facility could not withstand.

    When such an unforeseen event causes a local problem (such as a plant being destroyed), the consequences might still be acceptable even if expensive. When the result of an unforeseen event is a catastrophe like we saw in Japan, the consequences are not acceptable.

    I find it hilarious that Mr. Brown supported building new nuclear plants and opposed wind power in the same answer.

  5. Great Post

    Newest variant of GOP pretend moderate stance–in place of the Charlie Baker (I just don’t know anything stance) this year’s model concedes that human action plays a role while keeping silent on the fact that human activity is now the key driver.

    Republicans like Brown, however, still want to stick with dirty energy and refuse to back the necessary dramatic shift to clean energy sources.

    As for Fracking, the question of how much methane is released (especially by poorly regulated small operators) is still very much up in the air.

  6. Heating oil

    At some point Brown also tried to pander on heating oil. As Rep. Markey points out, “In New England, 1.4 million households have switched away from heating oil in the last 8 years, most to natural gas, due to lower costs.”

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